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DIY Kitchen: latkes

2013 January 14
by Rachel Turiel

It snowed on and off all weekend, like winter had finally remembered itself.


The snow around here is dry and light and fluffy and, well, southwestern; the kind of snow you can brush off your stairs as if you were just doing a little outdoor dusting (if, of course, you were the kind of person who actually did any dusting). And then, coming back inside (only to have the snow immediately and cartoonishly fill in all your work), your husband mentions that you look nice, in that bathrobe, and you search his face for signs of irony, but he means it, which seems like a sign of something. Like perhaps, the marital hotness bar has dropped a little low.


For moments, being outside is like standing in your own personal snow globe; the snow goes squinch squinch squinch under your feet and it’s like every cliché you can think of: blinding; dazzling; blowing like a mofo on my neck. But mostly it’s the most gorgeous thing in the universe. Like winter finally started going to its 12-step meeting, getting on board with asserting its true life purpose. Like nature is winning.

And what does that have to do with latkes? The part about life purpose, obviously.


It can start here.


Or even here. 

Boy are we excited about latkes lately. Partially on account of the 50#’s of potatoes in our root cellar; also because the toppings are so endless and customizable; and because they’re a fantastic vehicle for nutrient delivery (chard, winter squash) threaded discreetly through the potatoes. Col asked nervously though politely, as I was making the carrot cake he requested for his birthday, “Mama? Are you putting squash in the cake?” Poor kid. I wasn’t, but might, if I thought I could get away with it.

Dan is completely in charge of making latkes, because we both know I’m likely to make some faux, neurotic baked version, which no one would like, including me.


Potato Latkes

* wait, were you actually wondering what a latke is? It’s a traditional Hanukkah meal, pronounced “lat-kah,” and more commonly known as a potato pancake.


~makes a meal for a family of 4 ~

4 cups grated potato and/or winter squash (butternut or any dry-fleshed squash works great)

1/4 cut finely chopped onion

3 eggs

1/4 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

coconut oil, for frying (the case for coconut oil)


Let potatoes sit in colander, or squeeze in cheesecloth so liquid drains out. Mix all ingredients. Heat oil, about 2 TBSP, in a cast iron or stainless steel pan (no one’s using teflon anymore, right? Right?). Drop a large dollop of batter onto the hot oil. Fry for 2-4 minutes and flip, frying on the other side for slightly less time. Add more oil as needed. The latkes should be golden brown. Keep them warm in a preheated oven on top of paper towels inside a casserole dish until ready to serve.



Purple potatoes and butternut squash.


The traditional toppings are applesauce and sour cream, but our favorites are:

*yogurt (my kids would mug you for your sour cream, but I make several quarts of yogurt every week, so basically mums the word on sour cream even existing. Easy recipe for yogurt here)



*chopped fresh chives or parsley


*green chiles

*maple syrup (I personally think this is blasphemy, but Dan cites his Canadian heritage and I respectfully grit my teeth as the kids accidentally spill enormous pools of syrup on their latkes).




A large salad seems to balance out the richness of the latkes.

No reason to wait for Hanukkah, is what I’m trying to say.




17 Responses leave one →
  1. January 14, 2013

    Totally impressed with Dan’s multi-pan frying skills! I’ll have to try latkes with my family, looks like it is kid friendly.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 14, 2013

      Super kid-friendly. Sort of like build your own donut bar, but it’s dinner!

  2. Jan Turiel permalink
    January 14, 2013

    Yum, except for the sauerkraut! I’ve never been able to stand the stuff. And the snow sounds heavenly. We usually get the heavy wet kind here, and the snowplow guy rubs his hands together with glee, visions of $$$s dancing before his eyes.

    xo Aunt Jan

  3. Anonymous permalink
    January 14, 2013

    I can attest to the delicious latkes Dan made for us

  4. Emmanuelle permalink
    January 14, 2013

    Oh my, this post had me laughing aloud (several times, in fact) on account of things like Col asking nervously “Mama? Are you putting *squash* in the cake?” and such.

    Personally I am in favour of the faux, neurotic baked version, which I do with sweet potatoes :o)

    and sometimes I just make a patty out of sweet potatoes and squash purée (mixed with kale), then heat it in a… non-stick pan. Ouch! Thanks for the link – that pan is going to the garbage can right now.

  5. Ami permalink
    January 14, 2013

    One year for cole’s birthday, I made a double layer carrot cake with pumpkin pie filling…. Technically squash!? And my boyfriend never lets me live down the kabocha lasagna- (which was uh-mazing!)

  6. January 14, 2013

    you temptress you! but you got me a thinkin’. could i go full on squash with this? with kale and bacon, maybe? hhhhhmmmmm.

    i’ll report back!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 14, 2013

      Dan did a batch that was just butternut squash and it was my favorite yet. Also, double yes to bacon and kale.

  7. Cait permalink
    January 14, 2013

    Its been said already but sweet multi-pan latkes going on up there! One of our faves, zucchini is great to add too in the summer!

  8. Heather permalink
    January 14, 2013

    Every time I bake the latkes I’m accused of sacrilege. It is supposed to be about the oil afterall.

  9. Jen W. permalink
    January 14, 2013

    You should tell him no, there’s no squash in the cake, but it would make a lovely orange frosting!

  10. Bree permalink
    January 14, 2013

    I love that your recipes are full of such interesting life commentaries that make me smile and snicker to myself. Whenever I bookmark one and come back to read it again as I’m making it, I get to laugh all over again. I’m going to love reading this one over and over.

  11. January 14, 2013

    Thank you for the latke recipe. Hoping this recipe will resurrect past failures in making ‘potato cakes’.

    Lovely description of your wintry place in the world. We have 42 degrees celsius and bushfires in this place.

  12. January 16, 2013

    We made latkes for the first time recently. I think they had pears in them with the potatoes. Everyone loved them. Thanks for the reminder to make more!

  13. January 17, 2013

    This I love…a lot. I think I could actually make these and I’ll try. I really appreciate that you added the squash options too.

    (And, snow…I’m missing it right now. I’m traveling in southern California where it was warm enough for short sleeves and shorts today. Ah, well.)

  14. January 25, 2013

    wow those are GIANT latkes!! awesome idea, when you KNOW you will eat like 8 anyways ;)
    such a wonderful winter food!

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